How to Write a Memo

A memo is a short written communication and in business you need to know how to write a memo.

Memo writing is different from business communication letter writing and business email writing.

How to write a memo is something that can cause problems for people at first.

A memo is a short and direct form of business communication that’s meant to deliver information quickly and simply to co-workers and colleagues.

They’re different from letters and emails because they’re more informal and should be more direct. They wouldn’t have an opening salutation (e.g. Dear) or a formal closing.

A memo would usually be used to act as a reminder of something, present a short piece of information or a proposal. Often a memo can act as a cover note for a longer document. So if you need to send a report to several people you would include a memo with the report explaining what you wanted them to do.

Memo Format

All memos start with the same basic information:

  • To: This is where the names of the people or names of groups of people go. These are the people who’ll receive the memo.
  • From: This is the name of the person who sent the memo. If you’re sending the memo this is where your name would go.
  • Date: The date that the memo is sent on.
  • Subject: This is what the memo is about. Try to be as descriptive as possible. The subject needs to accurately reflect the information contained in the memo. But remember memos should be short so keep the subject as concise as possible.

After the basic information would come the body of the memo. This is where you’d write the main information. This shouldn’t be very long. It should be direct and to the point. Generally memos shouldn’t be longer than a single side of A4 paper, but this is still quite long. The shorter the better while also conveying all the information needed.

For most memos a 3 paragraph structure would be best. The first would be a short (1 sentence) introduction and the third a short conclusion or closing sentence explaining what the readers need to do. The second, middle, paragraph would contain the main information and can be a bit longer. If more than 3 paragraphs are needed that’s ok but remember to be concise and stick to the point.

As a memo is a short document it’s quite possible you’ll need to send attachments as well. If you do, list them on the memo at the end of the main body of the memo.

Tips to Help You Write a Memo

  • Remain focused on the topic at all times.
  • Only send important memos. Memos about trivial items waste time and dilute the importance of any other memos sent.
  • Keep them short and to the point.
  • Remain professional.
  • Proofread them to make sure they’re correct. They’ll be going to your colleagues and bosses so make sure they’re correct. See the business proofreading page for help.

If you need help to write a memo you can use my proofreading service or go to the Excellent Proofreading and Writing Facebook page to ask me any questions.

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By Jolyon Dodgson, copyright © 2011-2020. - Proofreading and writing help for excellent first impressions.